How shocked would you be if an unsightly metal utility box popped up on your front lawn — seemingly overnight? These boxes are not part of an elaborate inter-state art project and have nothing to do with the mysterious monoliths.
That is what greeted several Houston residents recently — and they are pointing the finger at network provider Verizon. Seeing infrastructure workers dig fiber optic trenches is nothing new. But when they drop a transmitter on your front lawn, people will get mad. Tap or click here to get away from Big Tech.
The U.S government has put billions of dollars aside to improve the current communications network. But unfortunately, some residents are seeing first-hand what the actual cost of having super-fast internet will be.
Here’s the backstory
Houston was the first city where Verizon launched its 5G network. To increase its current network coverage area, it has taken to Houston suburbs to install giant 5G transmission boxes.
Many residents were aware of the ongoing work but claim they weren’t informed about large obnoxious boxes being installed on their property. According to the Houston Chronicle, work began in the Montrose neighborhood in 2019.
Streamlined 5G buildout puts ‘ground furniture’ in Houston’s front yards https://t.co/je47v706lk— Houston Chronicle (@HoustonChron) January 22, 2021
“Three weeks after the work began, they hung a little tag on our doorknob that said something like, ‘Oh we are doing some work on your lawn,” resident Dirk Wijnands said.
As if the ugly box wasn’t enough, things might worsen for the people who live there.
What can they do about it?
The boxes and the utility poles are being installed on what is known as public right-of-way land. That is land owned by the respective county. While it might be on the homeowner’s lawn, the land it sits on belongs to the state.
The homeowners, from a legal point, have no recourse and will be stuck with the box. According to the 2017 Texas Senate Bill 1004, Verizon doesn’t need to get permission to install the boxes and utility poles.
Section 284.101 states that “a network provider is authorized without need for a special use permit or similar zoning review and not subject to further land use approval, to construct, modify, maintain, operate, relocate, and remove a network node or node support pole.”
The only thing that network providers need is a permit, and that has also gotten cheaper. While it cost almost $3,000 before the 2017 Bill was passed, it is only $300 now. And with 5G having bad range compared to LTE, providers can (and must) put up more of the boxes to span a large area.
Verizon issued a statement after receiving numerous complaints but simply reiterated that it is abiding by all necessary laws.
“We comply fully with all zoning and permitting requirements, and potential antenna locations must meet all local, state and federal regulations. These are placed in the right of way and are properly permitted,” they said.
It looks like affected residents are going to have to live with the ugly monstrosities on their property. Or move. Not a great choice no matter how you look at it.